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it’s a date: Bay Bridge is closing

By enelson
Friday, April 6th, 2007 at 11:40 pm in AC Transit, BART, Bay Bridge, Buses, driving, Environment, Freeways, Funding, Retrofitting, Safety, Transit vs. driving.

new-plans-for-yerba-buena-island.JPGWhen it comes to rebuilding the eastern span of the Bay Bridge (price: $5.6 billion), there are three main agencies that need to sign off on changes. Today the directors of those agencies met to determine your commuting future.

At issue is the expected Labor Day weekend closure of the entire bridge.

Last Labor Day, the lower (eastbound) deck had to be closed for the same holiday weekend so workers could demolish part of the bridge’s western approach in San Francisco.

This will be the big one, however. You know when you’re going west into the big tunnel on Yerba Buena Island? Bridge engineers had thought that upper deck piece would be OK to simply retrofit in place while commuters gailey sped across it.

Recently the triumvirate of Caltrans Director Will Kempton, Metropolitan Transportation Executive Director Steve Heminger and California Transportation Commission Executive Director John Barna finalized a change in those plans, such that the piece will be replaced.

That means that for the first three days of September, BART will be the order of the day, the Golden Gate will be a very slow way to get to Berkeley and the Hayward-San Mateo Bridge will be Oakland’s lifeline to the peninsula.

The big three met today to decide on a closure schedule, and as of now I’ve not gotten any of my favorite transportation officials or spokespersons to spill the beans.

When I do get them, Question No. 1 will be, “Will three days be enough to tear down the upper deck and build a new deck? It seems kinda tight, don’t you think?”

And if the answer is no or maybe, Question No. 2 will be, “Won’t closing the entire Bay Bridge on a weekday, when kids are going to school and everyone’s commuting every which way, won’t that bring the Bay Area to its knees?”

I don’t know the answer to any of those questions, I’m embarrassed to say, but I do know this: If they do shut the bridge down on September 4, 5 or 6, it will put the Spare the Air program to shame. People who have never set foot on BART will be fumbling with the card-machines as the regular commuters fume behind them.

And, for one glorious day, the rail people and BART supporters will smirk and bus people will have nothing to say.

I don’t wish this fate on anyone, but speaking as a dispassionate member of the media, I can’t wait to see it.

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7 Responses to “it’s a date: Bay Bridge is closing”

  1. david vartanoff Says:

    so will the MTC et al fund free 24/7 BART for the period of disruption? ‘Course the other question is how can they do the rebuild w/o theshutdown? Hint, if the shutdown were not permitted a solution would be found.

  2. Capricious Commuter Says:

    Good question about free BART. On the other hand, why bother? Spare the Air free transit was about enticing commuters to use it. When the bridge is closed, that will be enticement enough.

    The plan is to do the demolition and rebuild all in a weekend. They’re going to have the new deck up alongside the old bridge, then slide it into place when the old one is gone.

  3. david vartanoff Says:

    because the newbies will slow the system down too much. and while I will be pleased if its done on time,..
    secondly, the 24/7 and ALL stations issue needs to be clareified. IIRC last year BART redlined several areas and shut downt the last evening. NOT ACCEPTABLE .

  4. david vartanoff Says:

    Okay now you report (Thursday Trib) four days no bridge. So when do the transit gurus get real about planning for alternatives?

  5. Bruce De Benedictis Says:

    Last year, BART ran service which provided the equivalent to the service normally provided at night. It connected to the All Nighter buses which provide the regular service. The only problem was with people who were not familiar with the All Nighter service. In particular, it was a problem for those who did not know that there is some extra service which runs on the half-hour on Saturday and Sunday mornings, but not on all of the lines.

    I suspect this will be the case this year, as well. Anyone planning to use this service instead of driving would be wise to check first.

  6. Tabitha Pousson Says:

    And now with the closure of two of the major arms of the MacArthur Maze due to the
    tanker fire, do we REALLY want to time this major closure in September? Ack!
    Traffic hell redefined. I’m sooo glad I can walk to BART, but really, this system just
    needs one more thing to go wrong, and the whole Bay Area will be shut down.

    What a mess!

  7. Bruce De Benedictis Says:

    Actually, you might as well shut it down when other parts of the system are shut down, too. Otherwise, things are just shut down longer.

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